A full remake endows the 2014 Kia Soul with a new level of urban cool. Bigger, bolder and more refined, it enhances the basic in-your-face formula in a promise to make it even more attractive to an even broader range of potential customers.

Visually, the new Soul borrows a number of cues from the automaker's Track'ster Concept, most notably evidenced in its more aggressively rendered front fascia and a floating color panel inset element on its now- even-wider liftgate. However, the majority of its existing signature design cues remain to endow the vehicle with a bit more "presence," while retaining its fundamental character. Although its overall height hasn't changed, wheelbase and width on the 2014 Soul have grown a bit, leading to modest but welcome increases in front/rear passenger space and cargo capacity. Equally critical, the Soul redesign also yielded a new body structure made from 66 percent high-strength or ultra-high-strength steel that helps trim mass and also improves structural rigidity by 28.7 percent.

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Inside, the new Soul also features a number of Track'ster inspired elements, particularly the show car's "circle-centric" design theme that's reprised here in everything from the new instrument cluster to the door panel inserts. Even the multifunction controls in the steering wheel feature a Soul-specific circular grouping. Beyond that, the cabin in the new Soul has a more premium character, with lots more soft touch surfaces and high-gloss piano black trim in addition to more comfortable and supportive seats and available leather upholstery. Focused noise-reduction promises to make the passenger compartment notably quieter, as well.

The 2014 Soul model range will consist of base, Soul Plus and Soul Exclaim grades, each building on content and features. Like the current iteration, even the entry-level model will come impressively equipped, offering a full array of power assists, 6-speaker AM/FM/MP3 sound system, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio with three months complimentary service, USB/AUX inputs and more. Standard/optional feature on Plus/Premium grades will include everything from Kia's UVO eServices, navigation, and premium Infinity audio, to the Soul's first-ever panoramic sunroof, heated/ventilated leather seats, auto climate control and a rear-view camera.

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In addition to its enhanced appearance and amenities, the 2014 redo also promises better ride and handling. Suspension elements and settings have been meaningfully tweaked to improve control and reduce impact harshness while a new steering setup enhances feel and response. The new Soul also will offer Kia's FlexSteer system as an option that allows a driver to dial up Comfort, Normal or Sport effort settings.

Like the current model, the 2014 Soul lineup will be available with two familiar 4-cylinder engines, both retuned to deliver better low-end torque. The base Soul gets the existing 1.6-liter direct-injected Gamma unit that will make 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque. Plus and Exclaim variants will carry on with the 2.0-liter Nu engine that moves from port-type to direct fuel injection and will develop 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of twist. The 1.6-liter engine can be paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic. While the 2.0-liter can be teamed with either transmission in Plus models, the Exclaim can only be had with the autoshifter.

The 2014 Kia Soul will be rolling into showrooms sometime during the third quarter. Pricing will be released closer to the actual on-sale date.


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